Sunday, October 8, 2017

Finders Keepers

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
My oldest son found a soccer ball at a local High School football game.   It belonged to a rival team that must have lost it during a match.  After 12 years of playing soccer, he could tell this was an expensive game ball, not the average ball that even good players have.  It was quite a find and he was pretty psyched about such a great ball.  He was less thrilled when I said he couldn't keep it without contacting the school that owned it.  But as I told him, we can't keep something that we know belongs to someone else- that is stealing. As I wrote in last week's blog on No Regrets, if we aren't supposed to keep something, we won't enjoy it.  Things like this always work out, if we do the right thing even if it is the hard thing.

After a quick email exchange, we worked out the details for the coach to get the ball and I thought the situation was over, until I was telling my younger son about the whole episode of the found ball. We have a couple of kids that carpool with us to middle school soccer games and one of the boys couldn't help but express his shock that we gave the ball back. "I would've kept that ball if I found it," he said.  "I have lost so many soccer balls. People must find them and keep them. Each time I get a new one, it isn't as good as the last one. I figure keeping that ball would be fair since I have lost so many."

I was surprised to hear how emphatic he was. So I asked him, "Wouldn't you have liked it for someone to track you down and give back your lost soccer ball?"  Jesus tells us that we should "Do to others as you would have them do to you."  He explained to me that people just wouldn't return his stuff so he wouldn't return their stuff.  I tried to explain to him that if you treat others the way you want to be treated you will be blessed.  Some people might call this "karma" and explain that "what goes around comes around." Or use the phrase, "Pay it forward." I think this is illustrated by Galatians 6:7  "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." I could tell that I wasn't going to change his mind so I let it drop but I have been thinking about it ever since our conversation.

As I was listening to him, I realized how revolutionary Jesus' statement "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" was because people naturally want to do unto others as they have done. What is even more remarkable about this is that Jesus gave us this command in the context of loving one's enemies. Here is the verse in context of Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

If someone curses, devalues or demeans us, our natural instinct is to put them down, but Jesus calls us to bless them, see value in them and give them grace realizing we all fall short of the glory of God.  Being obedient to Jesus by carrying out his commands to love our enemies, pray for those who mistreat you, and bless those who curse you requires an immense amount of faith and trust.  We have to trust that God is just that He will avenge us, that He will provide for us when we have to give up our coat, shirt and ball and that He is in control. 

Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago to start a revolution.  His followers hoped he would throw over the Roman government, instead his revolution was to take place in each of our hearts.   By following him, we would be able to go beyond our 12 year old instinct to protect ourselves and our stuff and trust that He would take care of us and He has blessings for us that go beyond what we could ask or imagine.  

Our world needs a revolution, one that starts in all of our hearts. We have to stop the cycle of insults, hatred and cursing by turning the other cheek, by showing love instead of hate, by blessing instead of devaluing and by praying for those who mistreat us.  

How have you applied these verses to tough situations in your life? What was the result?
How do you teach them to your kids?

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